• all dogs go to heaven clocks heaven

    Like Tears in the Rain

    This scares me. I’m already scared of dying. And I know that, when I die, I’m probably going to be in the middle of a book (either writing one or reading one, probably both). I don’t even read 50 books a year and I’m a writer. I can manage about 30-35, so I won’t even get to 3,500. I can take some solace that I know I read more than what Goodreads accounts for–graphic novels, children’s books, comic collections, Star Trek novels, and all sorts of other books I’ve forgotten. And the average bookstore has 30,000! Now, granted, most of those I probably don’t want to read–atlases and how to…

  • american fiction

    Things I Like: American Fiction

    It’s hard to make a movie about writers. There’s “The Man Who Invented Christmas” about Charles Dickens. And “Best Sellers” which has Aubrey Plaza trying to get Michael Caine–a J.D. Salinger style curmudgeonly shut-in–to promote his new book. Neither of these were particularly exciting because writing just isn’t exciting. But American Fiction is very good, especially if you’re a writer. In the same way I was charmed by Chants of Sennar, I was intrigued by American Fiction. It’s about an affluent African-American professor (his sister’s a doctor and his brother’s a plastic surgeon). He writes normal literary books, but they aren’t selling because publishers only want stories about Black people…

  • short circuit novel colin wedgelock

    I Read the Short Circuit Novel So You Don’t Have To (and here are the differences)

    Did you know there was a novelization of Short Circuit? I didn’t. And if you’ve been paying any kind of attention to this blog, you’d know that Short Circuit is my favorite movie. Has been since I was a kid. So when I found this on a used book site, I jumped at the shopping cart. Maybe I’d find some deleted scenes or altered information. Because novelizations are based on the shooting script, not the final product. For instance, the Independence Day novel includes more scenes of Randy Quaid and his family, enduring them to the audience. I’m sure these are deleted scenes on the DVD, but back in 1996,…

  • girl in library picking out book

    A Check-In On My “To Read” List

    Let’s do a check-in on my to-read list. It’s pretty small right now. I’ve had it as many as twenty or twenty-five throughout its lifespan on Goodreads. Now it’s on the smaller end, only four or so away from its lifetime minimum. How do I pick what I’m going to read? Well, some are perpetual staples. I’m going to read everything that John Scalzi or Neil Gaiman or John Green or Peter David or Jason Pargin or Andy Weir releases. What’s the opposite of “your money’s no good here”? Is it “shut up and take my money”? But you know, even a productive author only releases one book a year/year…

  • bookshelf books

    The Books I Read: November – December 2020

    Death of a Rainmaker: A Dust Bowl Mystery by Laurie Loewenstein I read this because my wife was reading it for book club. Plus the idea intrigued me–a mystery story set in a piece of history rooted in Americana. I had never heard of it, the author, or the publishing company before. But I thought I could use a break from the robots and aliens. The thing is, it’s just tedious. The characters are dull as dishwater. There’s no intensity to the mystery. There’re no stakes. It’s as dry as the dust bowl it’s telling about. The thing about a mystery book is that bad mysteries contain large swaths of…

  • bookshelf books

    The Books I Read: September – October 2020

    The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal A true sequel to the first–it’s a race against time to keep humanity alive after a meteor has crashed on Earth, giving it a much closer expiration date. The only solution is to travel to space. All of this was all in the first book. Now that the space program’s been established, it’s time to put a colony on Mars. And our hero protagonist is part of the team making the year-long journey to the future with 1960’s technology. It’s not a complicated plot, but it’s still very good. Better than the first. Since the majority of the book takes place on the…

  • red badge of courage cover

    The Red Badge of Manliness

    Sometimes I read CliffNotes versions of old classics that I don’t particularly want to slog through, but am curious about. One of those is “The Red Badge of Courage”, written by Stephen Crane in 1895. It’s one of those classics you hear about, but no one you know has read. I left The Killer Angels unfinished so I knew I was going to have problems with this one. But I didn’t know what kind of problems. I didn’t even like the summary. My biggest beef is the theme — glory and pride comes from war and battle. It sounds like toxic masculinity: violence is a means to an end, being…

  • robots vs fairies close

    Robots vs. Fairies

    So last month I read “Robots vs. Fairies”, a collection of short stories. I was a little disappointed because it wasn’t so much “versus” as “here’s robots and now here’s fairies” (except for one story at the end). But at the end of each story, the author declared whether they were “Team Robot” or “Team Fairy” and why. Even though the split is even, it felt like Team Fairy came out the winner. But I thought it’d be fun to declare my allegiance, even though I’m not part of the book. (They didn’t even *ask* me! *sniffle*) Even though I probably read and produce more fantasy than science fiction, I…

  • more scary stories to tell in the dark alvin schwartz

    My Kindertrauma: Wonderful Sausage from “More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”

    How about a change of pace? Let’s hit the pause button on films and go for some literature. Now, I’ve never found reading very scary. It lacks the visual punch and timing. The best you can get is a sense of dread. I know some people say that when your imagination takes over, things are scarier. But for me, I know I have nothing to fear from my imagination — it’s in my head, the monsters can’t affect me there. It’s only as scary as I can make it. Lovecraft can’t stop me from giving Cthulhu a flowery hat like Mrs. Nesbitt. But sometimes at night, when the shadows are…

  • stephen king

    Is Stephen King Getting Worse or Better?

    Stephen King’s going to go down in history as THE novelist of the late twentieth century. More than Dean Koontz or John Green or Danielle Steele. They even made a horror movie about him. I’m not talking about a documentary or his directorial debut (and finale) Maximum Overdrive or a thinly veiled pastiche like in “In the Mouth of Madness“. I mean he was the subject matter. He’s ceased to be a person, but a brand. That’s what I call being part of the public consciousness. Not even J.K. Rowling has that (yet). But art changes over time. Simply because people change over time. Steven Spielberg doesn’t make the same…